This Friday, March 12th, the animated video Goodbye Sorrow by VCS senior Katie Armstrong will be featured on the curated video magazine telegraph21 (t21). The site is a relatively new venture that presents video art and short non-fiction narrative works from around the world. According to t21’s “about” page, its goal is to “make international documentaries and art videos accessible to a wide audience, connect viewers to great ideas and organizations, and give filmmakers, journalists, film festival organizers a top-notch venue to promote their work.” We’re very excited to have Katie’s work presented in such an eclectic and cutting-edge forum.
Goodbye Sorrow had its last incarnation as Katie’s contribution to the senior thesis exhibition Da/Sein. The two-minute-long piece presents a couple of serene but very poignant tales side-by-side, with only her a capella reworking of Eiffel 65’s 1999 dance single “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” (a.k.a. “I’m Blue”) as accompaniment. (Revealing any more would ruin its discovery for new viewers, so I’ll leave my description at that.) During Da/Sein, it was projected across one corner of the Visual Arts Gallery, with its juxtaposed halves displayed on adjoining walls like the pages of an open book; the installation also included a spreading constellation of drawings that Katie scanned and ran through Flash to create the animation.
I asked Katie for a few comments on the piece and her current approach to artmaking. Here’s some of what she said:
“I guess I should start by talking about why I animate in the first place. In terms of the history of fine art, animation is still relatively young (compared to something like painting, for instance). Because of this, it doesn’t carry a lot of historical baggage and has so much untapped potential, especially today, in the age of digital media. With the Internet making it increasingly easier to release video work into the world, and at such high definition, I can’t help but want to be a part of this strange, new, growing community. At the same time, I want to remind this digital land that there are human beings behind every strand of code, and that’s where my handmade, nostalgic aesthetic comes from. Little jumps, imperfect lines, textures, and cracks in my singing voice are conscious efforts to remind the viewer that a person made what they are watching.
“Right now, I’m taken with the idea of reworking well-known, tacky pop songs from my childhood and pairing them with a visual interpretation, It’s funny, the Wikipedia entry for “Blue” claims that the subject was picked at random, and that the lyrics were written to be more or less nonsensical or irrelevant. It’s strange how much the song changes and how meaningful the words become, just by singing it a little slower and juxtaposing it with different imagery. It is as if, by pulling apart the formulaic structure of the original tune, and presenting it with my own visual narrative, I can somehow confront the alien-ness of the song, and coax it into becoming something more human.”
[Update, March 28, 2010: The telegraph21 post about Goodbye Sorrow has been picked up by Animation Blog, a site run by Ian Lumsden, Animation Teacher and Deputy Head of Performing Arts College in the UK. The post at Animation Blog has a description and review that’s both sensitive and perceptive, and conveys the beauty of Goodbye Sorrow very well. The site also contains reviews of many other excellent short animations from around the world, and is well worth checking out. Katie is in great company.]